June 15 Memory: Vander Meer Added His Personal Touch to Baseball's 1st Night Game

Tracy Ringolsby

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The focus was on Brooklyn on the night of June 15, 1938. The Dodgers were hosting the Cincinnati Reds in the first night game in MLB history. Johnny Vander Meer, the Reds starting pitcher, became more than a footnote.

Vander Meer no hit the Dodgers that night, four days after he no-hit the Boston Bees, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to pitch no-hitters in back-to-back starts.

Think about it, he threw more no-hitters in five days than six current franchise have in their history. San Diego, in fact, has never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.

The Rockies are one of the five teams with one no-hitter to their credit, by Ubaldo Jimenez in Atlanta on April 17, 2010.

It was a bizarre night in that Jimenez finished the nine innings without giving up a hit, striking out seven but walking six. And those six walks all came in the first five innings. How did he suddenly find command? He opened the sixth inning working out of the stretch and continued to work out of the stretch the rest of the way in what became a career-high 128-pitch effort. He threw 72 strikes and his fastball averaged 96.8 miles per hour.

Jimenez became the sixth pitcher from the Dominican Republic to throw a hitter.

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Vander Meer never threw a third no-hitter. The four-time All-Star ended his career with a 119-121 record and 3.44 ERA. He spent the bulk of his time with the Reds (1937-43 and 1946-49, missing two years due to World War II), and spend one year each with the Chicago Cubs (1950) and Cleveland Indians.

Nolan Ryan holds the record for no-hitters with seven -- four with the Angels, one with the Astros and two with the Texas Rangers at the ages of 43 and 44. 

Sandy Koufax is No. 2 on the list with four, and Bob Feller, Cy Young and Justin Verlander have three apiece on their resume.

Ryan, Koufax, Feller and Young are all Hall of Famers. Verlander is still pitching, and on Sept. 1 last year with the Astros threw his third career no-hitter at Toronto. It was his second against the Blue Jays, both in their ballpark. He also no-hit the Blue Jays when he was with the Tigers on May 7, 2011.

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